US State dept labels climate change “strategic priority”

Tackling global warming ranks alongside terrorism, promoting economic growth and building open and democratic societies

(Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

(Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

By Ed King

Climate change will be one of four foreign policy priorities for the US up to the end of the decade, secretary of state John Kerry announced on Tuesday.

Unveiling the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, a key policy document that directs State Department thinking, Kerry said climate and clean energy lay at the heart of future planning.

Tackling the issue ranked alongside fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and building open and democratic societies, he said.

Branding climate change a “national security threat”, the QDDR recommends countries that have a key role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and those with influence are targeted by diplomats.

In addition to UN climate talks, it calls for “direct engagement” with mayors, governors, faith leaders, women’s groups, and business leaders on GHG reduction commitments.

Internally, climate change should become a “core competency” for recruitment of departmental and USAID officials, and all embassies need to appoint a “climate leader, promoting clean energy solutions.

Speaking the launch of the report – released every four years – Kerry said he wanted to expand the conversation on solutions to global warming beyond governments.

“I raise the urgency of this subject constantly with my counterparts, just as our ambassadors are instructed to do with foreign ministers,” he said.

“But action at the national level is only part of the equation. Most people live in cities, which is where the lion’s share of energy is consumed and pollution is generated.

“That means mayors and governors also have critical roles to play in this here and all across the world.”

The review’s launch comes at a frenzied time for international climate diplomacy, months before a global climate pact to limit warming is set to be signed off in Paris.

Earlier this month G7 ministers vowed to make climate change a foreign policy priority, and the G20 commissioned a report into the risks of investing in fossil fuels.

Last week France foreign minister Laurent Fabius linked migration and conflict to rising temperatures, suggesting it could “stoke conflict over the control of vital and scare resources”.

On Tuesday the Vatican’s science academy issued a statement urging the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to play a “decisive role” in mobilising public opinion behind a low carbon future.b

Read more on: Climate politics | US |